Heat causes SDG&E rate hikes for businesses

Posted at 11:30 PM, Jul 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-25 02:32:24-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Some business were caught off guard by soaring power rates due to Tuesday's extreme heat. 

Amanda Glass, owner of Glass Roots Salon in La Mesa, received an SDG&E notification Monday night that rates could increase up to 400 percent from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday.  She received another one Tuesday night that Wednesday will have the same rates. 

SDG&E says there are about 111,000 small businesses impacted by the rate hike, all of them enrolled in the "Time of Use Plus Plan."  Those customers are subject to significant rate hikes during peak hours on severe temperature days.

"Like (Tuesday) where there's extreme heat and the state of California is calling on people to conserve energy," Wes Jones, with SDG&E, explained.

"We're running hairdryers, we're running blow dryers, air conditioning you name it," Glass said, explaining how they can't conserve power from 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. which is a typically busy time.  

"We're not able to say, 'sorry client's we can't run air conditioning right now,'" she said.

Jones explained the trade-off is that customers on the plan pay lower rates on a typical day than people on a standard plan.

"They could have a higher rate in July, but throughout the course of the year they may actually save on the Time of Use Plus plan," Jones said.

SDG&E can have up to the 18 surcharge days a year. But they rarely have them, according to Jones. Wednesday is the third planned for the year, and there were five last year.

Glass says she's on a typical day under her plan she is charged roughly $4 to $7 a day. But looking back on her bill, she gets charged $40 to $50 on one of the surcharge days.  She also says she doesn't remember signing up for the plan and wonders if she was defaulted into it.

"I think I would switch to a plan that was more consistent," she said.

She also worries what it can do to small businesses if there are enough hot days.

"It may be $50 for that surcharge for us, but it could have been a couple hundred for other places," Glass said. "I just more education... letting us what our options are and letting us know what we're getting into would be helpful."